Patients at risk from lacking e-health regulation

Director of the Centre for Health Informatics at University of NSW Professor Enrico Coiera told MO the recent accidental deletion of 10-year-old Ezekiel Howard’s electronically stored heart scans and similar scans on other patients’ hearts at Nepean Hospital happened often in Australia.

The centre has been analysing accidents involving patient health information technology in the US, and has begun to collate data from Australian hospitals and general practices which it hopes to publish early next year.

“We don’t know how often [these mistakes are currently happening] because no one was counting. We’ve gone hunting and found a significant number across Australia in the sense that patient harm has resulted,” he said.

Professor Coiera said these mishaps and accidents ranged from an IT incident in which hospital network crashes caused mistakes to occur, to a printer being unable to print a medication order and the more

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